Looking ahead to the year in healthcare: What challenges will the NHS face in 2014?

This post is by Sophie Smyth.

Now that EHI Live 2013 is over and done, it’s time to pause and reflect on all the important lessons of this year’s show. Mark Smith, Microsoft UK’s Director of Health, shared his insights into the key learnings from EHI Live 2013 -- and his predictions of the year ahead.

What were your key observations from this year’s EHI Live? What trends did you observe?

So many of the conversations I had this year made it apparent that healthcare providers are realising how technology can be an enabler for innovation in the clinical world. There is a consensus among care providers that they are being held back, particularly once they see efficiencies that can be gained. People are also starting to develop a better understanding of the challenges ahead of them, especially when it comes to the end of Windows XP support. They’re realising they need to do something about it.

How is Microsoft, in conjunction with its partners, addressing the unique challenges of the health sector in the UK?

There are so many great solutions that partners are embracing, defining and delivering. They realise that there is so much data, which begs the question, ‘what can we do with it?’. When data is used correctly, you can make better informed decisions in real time -- for example, forecasting capacity decisions and outbreaks. The partners are really drilling into that data and making KPIs in real time, rather than 3 months out of date. A good example of this is MapCite. They took crucial data and mapped it to show the places which were breaching the four-hour wait at A&E in the UK in minutes for the previous week. There is so much more that could be utilised through the use of data.

What are you predictions for the year ahead?

There will be massive challenges within infrastructure in IT and within the NHS, as it has to deliver high levels of care, especially in winter months. This will drive a significant review of current systems and best practices. The migration away from XP gives providers a huge opportunity to really see how technology can drive innovation and efficiencies. As the health service looks to deliver more into the community, the use of Lync and Skype for consultations and multi-disciplinary collaboration with departments and between organisations will become increasingly prevalent, as part of the drive to find efficiencies and minimise costs.

Stay up to date on all the technology challenges facing UK healthcare in the coming year – follow @MSUKINHEALTH on Twitter!

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